US, Russia aim to ‘decapitate’ Syrian military
The US, Russia and the Syrian rebels started discussions this weekend over the composition of a list of Syrian generals who will be dishonorably discharged over war crimes they committed during the country’s civil war, debkafile’s military and intelligence sources say in an exclusive report.
The generals will not face trial at an international tribunal over their war crimes. They will be able to leave Syria along with their families and their possessions, just like President Bashar Assad and his clan.
Our sources add that atop the list are the commanders of the Syrian air force who carried out the majority of the Assad regime’s attacks on the rebels over the past five years, including the atrocities of the past few days.
The sources say that the Americans and the Russians intend to “decapitate” the command but leave the military’s structure in its current form while integrating rebel fighters and commanders into its units. The rebel commanders are to receive ranks equivalent to their current ones in the new Syrian army.
debkafile’s exclusive report on Wednesday, May 4, that Russia is ready to discuss the terms for Assad’s ouster surprised and stunned the political and military hierarchy in Tehran. In urgent consultations held the same day, it was decided to dispatch Iran’s deputy foreign minister for Arab and African affairs, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, to Moscow without delay in order to determine whether the report was accurate.
The senior Iranian diplomat arrived in the Russian capital the following day and met with Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, the chief strategist of Russia’s Middle East policy.
Immediately after the meeting, Amir-Abdollahian said Iran will continue supporting Assad and the Syrian people in fighting terrorism, and make efforts to achieve success at intra-Syrian talks, namely the negotiations in Geneva between the Assad regime and the Syrian opposition. The Iranian diplomat did not say a single word about Assad’s future.
However, Moscow was one step ahead of Tehran. Shortly before Amir-Abdollahian deplaned in the Russian capital, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made a bombshell statement, saying “Assad is not our ally, by the way. Yes, we support him in the fight against terrorism and in preserving the Syrian state. But he is not an ally like Turkey is the ally of the United States.”
Our sources said it was a put-down for both Washington and Ankara, whose relationship has deteriorated recently.
debkafile’s military sources report that Assad has not failed to notice the latest developments, and he continues to use Syrian, Iranian and Hizballah forces to attack the rebels in the parts of Aleppo that they control. This comes despite the announcement on Saturday, May 7, by Moscow and the Russian military in Syria that the ceasefire in the northwestern city had been extended by 72 hours.
Assad is keeping the Syrian army in reserve to defend his regime against the US-Russian plan to depose him.